He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, named Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel."
- Luke 24:17-21
We had hoped. Think about how sad those words are. Think about all that they contain.
Decades ago, my parents left a cult
they had been in for many years. They had to deal with the idea of "wasted years," that an organization they had poured their lives into (and got married in) was not what they thought it was, that their trusted leaders were not who they said they were. What do you trust, after something like that? Where do you begin to pick up the pieces?
And yet I think it was even worse for the disciples. Some of them were cautious, skeptical people, not easily taken in (Look at Thomas and his continual search for empirical evidence), and yet they had followed this man. They had seen him do things no human could do, heard him speak about things no human could have known about. Surely this man was one of God's prophets! Surely something big was about to happen, and they were in on the ground floor!
For three years they followed this man without reservation, leaving behind careers, family, homes, possessions. For three years they watched him do the impossible, heard him say the inexplicable, and tried to figure it all out. And then -- and then
-- he died
All their dreams, all their prayers, dying on that instrument of Roman torture with their leader. It was all over.
How do you start over after something like that? A broken, scattered band, the former followers of Jesus began to go their separate ways, trying desperately to figure out the question: What now?
Writing decades later, Paul says it best. "...If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. ...And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world."Have you ever felt like you lost all hope? How do you imagine the disciples felt after Jesus died? How do you think they felt when he rose again? How do we remind ourselves that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him?